Kate's Comment

Thoughts on British ICT, energy & environment, cloud computing and security from Memset's MD

Getting root with Revolutionary & CyanogenMOD (HTC)

One of my personal rules of gadgets is, “If you don’t root it, you don’t own it!”. Rooting means having root control on the device, but also comes with risks of bricking your phone (ie. turning it into a useless brick!).

Further, my HTC Desire kept running out of space and there were lots of apps that I just didn’t want and didn’t need, but could not delete with the default install.

After much trawling and a couple of failed attempts I came across Revolutionary and CyanogenMOD. I cannot recommend them enough! I could not do the install from my Mac though – I had to use a Linux machine to get the software (which cracks your phone via the USB debugging facility) to work in the end. It should be doable from Windows too.

For a power Android user they are a must have. One of the main benefits is enormous customisation through the existing menus. I like to be able to customise things like the launcher bar at the bottom for instance. Also, I wanted more than the standard 4×4 rows so I could fit more on my default screen and avoid scrolling. The picture insert is a screenshot of my UI with 4×5 rows and a few other bits. Nothing there is standard apart from the top bar. For insterest, the widgets I’m using are:

  • Power Control Plus
  • Moon Phase
  • PowerAmp
  • CalenGoo
  • Astrid

They not only let you get “under the bonnet” and give you access to a command line prompt. All the annoying HTC apps were gone, but some of the Google/Android ones I didn’t want were still there taking up space. For example, I use K9 Mail (a superb, secure, powerful email client that can store content on the SD card – surprisingly useful!) for my email not the default app and don’t need it, so all I had to do was open terminal emulator and type (each line followed by a return):


  – Become root (superuser)

mount -o rw,remount /system

  – Mount the /system partition

cd /system/app

  – Change directory into the one where the apps live.

ls -alhSr

  – List all files giving long details, with sizes human readable format sorted by Size in reverse order.

At this point you should have a list of the biggest offending apps by application size. Now to pick off some of the bad boys you don’t use! However, do first check the CyanogenMOD Barebones page which gives these instructions and a list of applications it is safe to remove! So, for me the default Email app was a problem:

rm -f Email.apk

  – Forcibly remove the Email app file.

We also need to clean out old data associated with the app, but this lives on a different partition, so repearing some steps:

mount -o rw,remount /data
rm -f /data/app/Email.apk

Now that we’ve removed the app and data we just need to tidy up Android’s internal list using the Package Manager (pm):

pm uninstall com.android.email

And we’re done!

Other cool options that CyanogenMOD give you include quiet hours, performance tweaks, interface/displa customisations and much more. Get it and explore the menus to see what I mean. If you really want to own your phone and be able to customise it to fit you personally you need to root it. In my view no self-respecting hacker/techie should be using non-modded phone!

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